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Google hit by U.S., EU antitrust suits
While the lead-up has taken the best part of two years, authorities on both sides of the Atlantic came close this year to concluding ongoing antitrust suits against search giant Google for alleged anti-competitive behavior.
Formal probes were opened against Google for allegedly 'cooking' its search results in order to favor its own services ahead of others, while pushing rival search results down the page. The investigation received more than a dozen formal complaints from a bevy of companies, including Microsoft-owned search engine Ciao!, Foundem, eJustice, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. The search company also allegedly "copied" content from other services without prior consent, and has been under the watchful eyes of both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission for the past year.
(The U.S. FTC also dinged Google after the search company was found to have bypassed the security settings on the Apple Safari browser earlier this year. Google settled for $22.5 million, which by our count, could have been recouped by Google in just five hours.)
Recent reports suggest that both the U.S. FTC and EU authorities will announce their plans to settle with the search giant in early 2013. Google can be fined up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover if it is found in breach of European law, which could amount to as much as $4 billion in fines.
Drones, drones, drones: Surveillance on the rise
Drones for surveillance, drones for combat killing. 2012 has seen a rapid increase in the number of drone strikes on targets in Afghanistan -- around 450 since the year's beginning -- and may other locations around the world.
But, looking further afield to unmanned aircraft, not only are intelligence services using drones in the field and afar, domestically the number of police forces using drones are on the rise. To make matters even more complicated, the ethical issues of unpiloted aircraft hovering overhead are on the rise. Even the general public is getting in on the action.
But not all drones have been used for surveillance purposes. Earlier this year, Magnet-link sharing site and former torrent haven The Pirate Bay said it was planning to put its servers into low-orbit 'drones' in order to prevent them from being seized by authorities. How that will pan out, exactly, we may have to wait until 2013 or beyond.
The PC is dead. Long live the PC!
This year saw the all-but-inevitable death of the traditional PC. The debate argues around whether or not the PC makers can survive with the rise of post-PC devices, like smartphones, tablets, and 'phablets' -- or part-phones, part-tablets. But, the final nail in the coffin was when figures suggested that PC shipments were expected to (and subsequently did) decline for the first time in a decade.
Ultrabooks failed to make that much of an impact, while PC industry rival Apple was shipping more iPads than any other PC manufacturer was shipping PCs each quarter. It was a tipping point that was reached where the mere tablet had grabbed the PC industry by the throat and continues to strangle it. Will PCs survive? Yes, for the next few years, but the post-PC era is certainly upon us.